Teacher Training andTeacher Development:
A Useful Dichotomy?
University of Haifa, Israel
Return to The
Language Teacher Online
Teacher training may be defined as preparation for professional
practice usually through formal courses at colleges or universities. It
usually results in some kind of recognized accreditation, granting successful
candidates a certificate and the right to put letters after their names
such as BATEFL, PGCE, RSA Dip.TEFLA, etc.
Teacher development , on the other hand, usually refers to professional
learning by teachers already engaged in professional practice, usually through
reflective discussion sessions based on current classroom experience.
So the first, basic difference is that teacher training implies preservice
learning, and teacher development in-service. But it is not so simple. A
further very basic and far-reaching distinction implied in the above definitions
has to do with their different underlying theories of the nature of professional
Models of teacher learning
One "way in" to this distinction which I have found helpful
is to define it in terms of Wallace's (1991) three models of teacher learning:
the applied science, craft, and reflective models. According
to the applied science model, teachers learn to be teachers by being taught
research-based theories, and then applying them in practice: The implication
is that the most important professional knowledge is generalizable theory.
The craft model means learning teaching in the way apprentices learn crafts
like shoemaking or carpentry: The novice watches and imitates a master teacher,
and obeys the latter's directions for improvement. Here the implication
is that teaching is mainly a practical skill. Finally we have the reflection
model, according to which teachers learn by reflecting on their own experience
and applying what they have learned in order to develop their professional
Figure 1: Teacher training
Note that the trainee is on the end of all the arrows: He or she is essentially
receptive, being taught by the master teacher's model or criticism (craft
model) or by the trainer's input on research and theory (applied science).
There is very little place for his or her own initiative in creating new
output, thoughts, or practical ideas.
Wallace's third model (learning derived from reflection on practice),
corresponds with "teacher development." It can be represented
through the model of experiential learning provided by Kolb (1984) ( See
Figure 2: "Teacher development" (after Kolb, 1984)
In contrast to the previous diagram, the teacher-learner is active: experiencing,
reflecting, conceptualizing, experimenting. External sources of input, on
the other hand, do not appear as a significant contributor to learning.
Teacher development sessions
If we turn to the literature on "teacher development" -- especially
that which appears in the newsletter of the Teacher Development special
interest group of IATEFL -- we find a different aspect being stressed: the
practical side of the organization of "teacher development" sessions.
These are envisaged as meetings of groups of colleagues, often working in
the same institution, where participants share and discuss aspects of their
ongoing classroom experience. The differences which are thrown up are therefore
more practical in nature -- but the connection with the previous theoretical
model is clear. The contrasting lists below are based on articles by Bolitho
(1986), Edge (1986), Freeman (1990), McGrath (1986), Tangalos (1991), and
| Imposed from "above"
|| Initiated by "self"|
| Pre-determined course structure
|| Structure determined through process|
| Not based on personal experience
|| Based on personal experience|
| Externally determined syllabus
|| Syllabus determined by participants|
| External evaluation
| Input from "experts"
|| Input from participants|
| Unthinking acceptance of information
|| Personal construction of knowledge|
| Cognitive, cerebral
|| Cognitive and affective, "whole person"|
| Stresses professional skills
|| Stresses personal development|
| Disempowers individual teacher
|| Empowers individual teacher|
The first six items here clearly correspond with the "reflective"
versus "applied science/craft" diagrams previously shown. Items
seven to ten add a fresh dimension: that of the "person-centred"
approach. Many writers emphasize that the function of "teacher development"
is to develop the teacher's own potential as a "whole person"
through collaborative interaction with colleagues. There is a clear association
here with the humanist methodologies in language teaching and with the ideas
behind "collaborative development" (Edge, 1991), where colleagues
help each other develop through non-judgmental listening and response. Item
eleven -- teacher empowerment -- is a key one, which I will develop further
The teacher as professional
Teacher empowerment means that the teacher is seen as an autonomous professional,
responsible for, and an authority on, professional learning and practice,
rather than subordinate to external authority and expertise. The concept
"professional" may be clarified by contrasting it with opposing
ones such as "lay." "amateur." "technician."
and "academic" (Ur, 1997).
1.Professional vs. lay. The teacher is a member of a specific
professional community, as distinct from the general public who are designated
in contrast "lay." This professional group is distinguished by
its particular skills, knowledge, language, conventions and ethical principles.
Such a community maintains and develops its solidarity and standing through
conferences, journals, Internet communication, etc.
2. Professional vs. amateur. The professional teacher is differentiated
from the amateur by virtue of superior performance as a practitioner, superior
knowledge, consistent self-development and a serious commitment to the achievement
of teaching objectives -- the advancement, or bringing about, of learning
on the part of their students. All of this usually implies better pay and
3. Professional vs. technician. The professional possesses an
underlying understanding of the principles of their practice, not just a
collection of technical skills. This enables them to make appropriate real-time
decisions in practice when different principles appear to conflict. More
importantly, it equips them with the ability and authority to criticize
input from other professionals or academics and evaluate its appropriateness
or acceptability in principle or for specific contexts.
4. Professional vs. academic. The professional is primarily engaged
in real-time action and is motivated by the desire to bring about real-world
change seen as valuable or desirable. The academic, on the other hand, is
primarily engaged in thinking and experimenting, mainly motivated by the
desire to discover truth or further knowledge. This is obviously something
of an over-simplification -- the professional is also interested in abstract
knowledge as is the academic in real-world change -- but the primary "thrust"
of their motives and activity is, I think, as defined here.
An important implication of this is that research and thinking by the
academic may not always apply or be relevant to professional practice, just
as "what works" for us may not be for them a worthwhile or generalizable
scientific hypothesis. Thus, to claim that academic research should justify
itself in terms of its usefulness or applicability to real-world professional
practice is to deny academic freedom and the joy of discovery for its own
sake. And from the professional's point of view: We should learn selectively
and critically from the academic's research and thinking, and not accept
these as the main authoritative bases for professional knowledge.
The empowerment of the teacher, in the sense of endowing him or her with
the status of autonomous professional as defined here, sounds great; but
it does not always happen. While preparing this paper I came across several
instances of situations where "teacher development" was understood
as a training methodology based on "involving" teachers in interactive
discussion, but where the ultimate objective was to get them to accept innovations
that had been determined elsewhere: by the Ministry of Education, or by
some authoritative group of experts who were not themselves teachers. And
the success of such "teacher development" was evaluated by the
extent to which the managers of the project succeeded in convincing teachers
to take on board these innovations (for example, Hayes, 1995; Bax, 1995a).
In such cases, teachers appear to be given some measure of freedom to express
their opinions and initiate discussion -- but the aim of the organizers
of the project is to use this discussion in order to persuade the teachers
to adopt certain pre-determined ideas for change, rather than to explore
and develop their own.
I do not mean to imply that such projects are "bad." On the
contrary, they tell the story of some interesting work on the introduction
of difficult but clearly valuable change in teacher attitudes or methodology;
and, the work invested in initiating, carrying through, and documenting
such work has produced results from which we can all learn. I would claim,
however, that they are not talking about real "teacher development"
as I understand the term; they are talking about effective methods of bringing
about change in education. This is because true teacher development, on
its own, is not a very effective means for bringing about change. You need
a combination of aspects of "development" and "training."
Teacher training versus teacher development: a conclusion
My answer to the question posed in the title of this article would be
"yes" - - but with reservations. The distinction between teacher
training and teacher development is an interesting one, and, like Krashen's
learning versus acquisition of language it has given rise
to some useful and productive thinking about the nature of professional
learning. But, also like Krashen's dichotomy, the distinction ceases to
be a useful one if the two concepts are considered to be completely separable
or mutually exclusive. They are of optimal value when they come together.
Neither model of teacher learning is satisfactory on its own. Teacher
training as described in Figure 1 leaves no scope for the teacher's own
reflection and initiative. This is contrary to our intuitions about effective
learning, and contrary to the experience of most competent teachers who
will tell you if you ask them that the single most important contribution
to their present expertise was reflection on their own experience. It is
also contrary to the fairly widely accepted social constructivist, or Vygotzkian,
conception of the nature of learning, according to which we learn by constructing
our own understanding of reality through interaction with others (parents,
The model of teacher development as presented in Figure 2 does the opposite.
It respects the teacher's own experience as a major source of learning,
and allows full rein to their own thinking and initiative. But it does not
appear to take into account the enormous amount of knowledge, practical
and theoretical, that has been amassed by other practitioners, thinkers
and researchers, and of which the teacher-learner can take advantage. Taken
to an extreme, it implies that the incoming teacher has to "reinvent
the wheel" on their own.
Surely a proper model of professional learning would need to take into
account both sources, both external and internal. Suppose we take Figure
1 and Figure 2 and combine them. We might get something like Figure 3.
Figure 3: Optimal teacher learning
I would claim that any teacher, at any stage of their career, learns
most effectively like this. The most important, central source (the inner
circle) is the teacher's reflection on their own experience, whether as
learner, as trainee on teaching practice or as professional teacher. But
to learn only from oneself is limited: One needs also to take advantage
of the enormous amount of professional knowledge and expertise "out
there." waiting to be tapped. Your own experience can be enriched by
hearing, seeing, or reading about the experiences of others; your reflections
on your own or others' performance can be enriched by other people's critical
observations; you can discover some beautiful theories through reading the
literature or listening to lecturers that help you understand what you are
doing; you can supplement your own experimentation by finding out about
the experiments of researchers. Such knowledge, however, cannot be taken
on board simply through reading or hearing about it. In order to function
as real knowledge and not just as inert items of information, you need to
process it through your own experience, reflection, conceptualization, and
experimentation and to construct your own understanding of it. This means,
of course, that not all external input will necessarily be accepted, and
that that which is accepted may be extensively adapted. The teacher's processing
will "filter out" those aspects which do not seem to be appropriate
or comprehensible, and finally absorb the knowledge in the form which fits
in with their own thought and action and which they can "own."
In other words, I do not think that there is much value in basing any
kind of practical professional learning on either of the models on their
own -- training or development. Both pre-service and in-service courses
should involve the combined process as sketched out in Fig.3 above.
Frankly, this is probably what most teacher educators are doing anyway.
This article does not aspire to propose substantial changes in teacher education
methodology. My aim in writing it has been, rather, to clarify and order
my own thinking on concepts which I have found in the past to be rather
fuzzily defined or confused. I hope that the reader has also found it helpful.
References and Further Reading
Bax, S. (1995a). Appropriate methodology: the content of
teacher development activity. System, 23 (3), 347-357.
Bax, S. (1995b). Principles for evaluating teacher development
activities. English Language Teaching Journal 49 (3), 262-271.
Bolitho, R. (1986). Teacher development: A personal perspective.
Teacher Development, Newsletter of the IATEFL Teacher Development Special
Group 1, 2.
Edge, J. (1991). Cooperative development: Professional
self-development through cooperation with colleagues. London: Longman.
Finocchiaro, M. (1988). Teacher development -- A developmental
process. English Teaching Forum, 26(3), 2-3.
Freeman, D. (1989). Teacher training, development and decision
making: A model of teaching and related strategies for language teaching
education. TESOL Quarterly, 23(1), 27-46.
Hayes, D. (1995). In-service teacher development: Some
basic principles. English Language Teaching Journal 49(3), 252-61.
Higgs, D. (1986). Blurring boundaries between training
and development. Teacher Development: Newsletter of the IATEFL Teacher
Development Special Group 3, 1.
Kolb, D.A. (1984). Experiential learning: Experience
as the source of learning and development. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey:
Lange, D.L. (1990). A blueprint for a teacher development
program. In J.C. Richards & D. Nunan (Eds.), Second language teacher
education, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
McGrath, I. (1986). The balancing act: Our major responsibility.
Teacher Development: Newsletter of the IATEFL Teacher Development Special
Group 4:, 1.
Tabachnik, & Zeichner (Eds.). (1991). Issues and practice
in inquiry-oriented teacher education. Lewes: The Falmer Press.
Tangalos, B. (1991). When you get lemons, make lemonade.
English Teaching Forum, 29(4), 35-36.
Underhill, A. (1987). Empowering ourselves to act -- the
common denominator of td? Teacher Development: Newsletter of the IATEFL
Teacher Development Special Group 7, 1.
Ur, P. (1997). The English teacher as professional. English
Teaching Professional 1(2), 3-5.
Wallace, M.J. (1991). Training foreign language teachers:
A reflective approach. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Penny Ur teaches at Oranim, University or Haifa, Israel. Her publications
include Five Minute Activites, Grammar Practice Activities, and A Course
in Language Teaching.
articles at this site are copyright © 1997 by their respective authors.
Document URL: http://www.jalt-publications.org/tlt/files/97/oct/ur.html
Last modified: October 19, 1997
Site maintained by TLT